David De Gea to Continue as United No. 1
David De Gea looks set to remain at Manchester United on a new deal that could keep the United number one at the club for a further three years. In spite of De Gea’s mistakes against Sevilla that effectively ended United’s hopes of progressing in the Europa League, the Spanish international is reportedly getting closer to signing a new deal.
Some reports would suggest that he hasn’t signed on the dotted line yet because he is angling for better terms. But, my feeling is that he is choosing to remain focused on closing out the season on a high. United are still in the hunt for Champions League football next season and an FA Cup trophy.
In light of the fact that he is likely to remain United’s number one next season, questions surrounding his suitability to Erik ten Hag’s style of play are beginning to fester. His performance against Sevilla is yet another reminder of how bad De Gea can be at his lowest. And like Harry Maguire, his biggest faults seem to cost Manchester United at the worst possible moments.
The Media Scathes De Gea
Social media and the largely anti Manchester United press would have you believe that De Gea is a mediocre keeper in decline. One that is a remnant of United’s past greatness, and a remnant of a style of play seldom used at the top level of football anymore. They would have you believe he is a relic. And a magnet for high profile errors.
No one denies that De Gea is a great shot stopper. But many would preach that his inability to play out of the back at an elite level hurts United more than his shot stopping abilities save us. And when United need De Gea to step up the most, he fumbles.
As a huge David De Gea fan, I can only respond with the argument of how many times he has saved us in important moments. Or kept us in a game when the outfield players are floundering. There are in fact far too many examples to list. You only need to look at his stats or his highlight reels to see the fallacy with his critics.
The average person looking to stir up an argument rarely looks at the good with the bad. While pundits and journalists are paid to stir the pot, create controversy, and criticize. Most of the time people are looking to spark a debate or create controversy when there is none.
David De Gea, World No. 1
David De Gea has been an immense servant to this club. One worthy of greater accolades then his time with United has afforded him.
What’s more, De Gea has been at United for twelve years. He has been the Red Devil’s number one long enough for most of us to know what he is an what he is not. And I am getting a little board with this narrative that he’s no longer good enough for United every time he makes a mistake.
No player is perfect, and we have to take the good with the bad, as long as the good outweighs the bad. Which, so far with De Gea has been the case. There was a reason he was offered a new contract this year. He has had a stellar season, by in large. But, all too often, one or two poor performances can condemn a player beyond reason and logic.
David has more clean sheets than any other keeper in the Premier League. And he has made countless game saving saves this season. By all counts, he has been a staunch leader and a superlative example for the younger players. He has earned his new contract.
Also worth mentioning, most of his errors have come exclusively while playing behind Maguire and Lindelof. Read into that as you will.
Fans Need to Accept De Gea for What He Is.
What he is not is great with his feet. His ball distribution can frequently be called into question. Don’t get me started on his passive approach to set pieces and crosses into the box. And he can, at times, make game ending bad decisions.
What he is, is Manchester red through and through. He is a leader in the dressing room at a time when United need as many leaders as possible. And he is a consummate professional.
All sentiment aside, on the grounds of shot stopping, reflex saves, foot saves, and game saving saves in general, he is one of, if not the best in the world.
But none of this answers the most important questions about De Gea and his future with United. Is he the right kind of goalkeeper for this current incarnation of Manchester United? Will he still be our number one next year? And, does he deserve a new contract, or are the executives at United papering over the cracks again?
The answer to the first question is, unfortunately, no. The answer to the second question is most likely, yes. The answer to the third question is, a little bit of both.
Is David De Gea Still the Right Keeper for United?
De Gea, in my eyes, is an excellent keeper and one we would be lucky to keep hold of.
But, as previously mentioned, playing out of the back and ball distribution are his greatest weaknesses. They also happen to the two of the most important skills a ten Hag keeper needs.
When Lisandro Martinez and Rafael Varane are playing, De Gea is shielded enough that he is less likely to find himself in a situation where he could make a mistake. Unfortunately, as we have seen this season, he wont always be playing with both of them in the back line. Meaning, he could, at any moment, be a liability.
If the Red Devils are to regain statis amongst the upper echelons of football again they need a reliable spine. A goalkeeper that fits the coaches style of play is the base of that spine, making it one of the most important positions on the field. And making it a position that a team can ill afford a liability at.
It is the Cristiano Ronaldo situation all over again. Ronaldo was a great servant to United and a world class player, as is David De Gea. But Ronaldo didn’t fit the system ten Hag wanted to implement. We all saw how that panned out.
So, no De Gea is probably not the ideal keeper for this United squad.
Will David De Gea Still be Manchester United No.1 Next Season?
For all of his abilities, his biggest weakness can, at times, be United’s biggest liability. And for that reason I get the sense that ten Hag will replace De Gea as soon as he can.
But, that simply wont happen this summer, for one simple reason. Money.
There isn’t any at Manchester United. The Glazers are still not certain of selling the club. With so much about United’s future still up in the air there is little money in the war chest for ten Hag to bolster the squad. He has no choice but to prioritize other signings. Lest an opportunity arises that cant be passed up. Which is unlikely.
United need one, probably two strikers, a center back, a right back and a central midfielder before they can consider replacing David De Gea. I believe he will remain between the sticks for United for at least one more season. Sadly it wont be on merit, but rather a seething combination of desperation, necessity and the Glazer’s poor management of the club.
Does David De Gea Deserve a New Contract?
David De Gea is United’s longest standing active player. He is the only player, other than Phil Jones that was with the club during the Fergie years. He has led United’s back line through Fergie, Moyes, Giggs, Van Gaal, Carrick, Mourhino, Raagnick, Ole Gunnar Solskjar and now Erik ten Hag.
His versatility and professionalism as a keeper, to play under so many managers is a testament to his abilities. And in that period he has been discussed as the best goalkeeper in the world at times.
David is one of a handful of genuine leaders in this team, and his shot stopping is still second to none. He holds the United appearance record for a keeper and the United clean sheet record for a keeper. De Gea has also seen United to three European cup finals (one of which he won) and two semi finals, two FA Cup finals, two EFL Cup trophies, and he is the only current United player to have won the Premier League.
All his years servitude and continued shot stopping abilities absolutely justify a new contract. It also just so happens that the Glazers can get away with one because they don’t have to replace him.
Who Could United Replace De Gea With?
United have far too many other priorities on the field that need to be resolved. What’s more, how many other keepers out there are really better than De Gea? I can only name a handful. Coutinho, Allisson, Ederson, Ter Stegan, Oblak, Emi Martinez, maybe Donnarumma. But, how many of them are available this summer?
Maybe Emi Martinez or Oblak if the Glazers are willing to pay an astronomical fee. Which they are not
Rumors suggest that United are in for Kevin Trapp, Yann Sommer and Asmir Begovic. With speculation rife around Hugo Lloris entering free agency this summer. The Tottenham keeper and world cup winner has so far rejected resigning for Spurs.
As good as Trapp, Sommer, Begovic and Lloris are, none of them will want to play second fiddle to De Gea. But none of them is so much better than De Gea that they are guaranteed to dethrone him. The real question is, are any of these keepers better than De Gea at build up play and ball distribution?
The answer to that question is probably, all but Begovic. Meaning De Gea may have to keep an eye on his six, depending on how the pending sale of the club turns out.
Beggars Can’t Be Choosers
Despite that our frustrations with De Gea at times can make us question his worthiness as a United keeper, we must remember that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. In an ideal world Erik ten Hag would probably like a different style keeper or a better keeper overall.
Unfortunately, the Dutch manager is not afforded such luxury. Beggars cant be choosers and Untied are most certainly beggars at the moment. As a result of the position the Glazers have put the Club in through poor management and a never ending sale process, United may be stuck with De Gea for now.
But, I should also reiterate we could do far worse then De Gea. Who as a United player has still won more trophies than any of the players who are likely to replace him. I also feel the need to reiterate that the underlying problem is how exposed our back line can leave De Gea. Especially when one or both Martinez and Varane are not fit.
Who are we to say that prioritizing another top flight center back wont further help to limit his exposure. When he plays with Varane and Martinez, all of his so called faults appear to drift away. Another defender of their pedigree would go a long way towards turning around De Gea’s future at United.
How Do You Like Them Apples?
There is an interview with Ben Affleck and Matt Damon that I think is a perfect parody for the De Gea situation. The focus of the interview is how the two came to create Good Will Hunting.
Midway through the interview, the commentator askes the two how they were able to combine their creative processes when writing the script for the film. Damon responded first. He told a story about a conversation he an Affleck had when they first sat down to work on the film together. As the story goes…
Affleck had already written parts of the movie and was ready to begin collaborating with his costars and producers. Before they went any further with writing or casting, Affleck sat Damon down for a heart to heart conversation.
He said to Damon, something along the lines of; don’t judge me for my mistakes or bad ideas with this movie. Rather judge me on my good ideas, my good decisions.
This story, that quote, perfectly embodies how I feel about the criticism De Gea has faced in his United career. Fans need to judge him on how many times De Gea has saved us, not how many times he has condemned us. In that light we can see just how crucial he has been for this team over the last decade or more.
What Choice Does Erik ten Hag Have?
I agree with Alex and John on this one. We are likely to see De Gea between the sticks for United for at least one or two more seasons.
The options for ten Hag are three fold. He can ride De Gea until he can find a worthy replacement. And likely have to endure his short comings for another season. The main issues here being a lack of funds and we would need to sell De Gea for this to work. But, his wages are so high that it is unlikely we would be able to offload him.
Or, ten Hag can bring in a cheaper lesser quality keeper this summer, but one that is a better fit for his style, and let the two duke it out.
Or, he can bring in an up and coming young goalkeeper to groom as a replacement. Much in the same way Sir Alex brought in a young De Gea as a replacement for Edwin van der Sar.
Regardless, any option equals De Gea still in net next season. My genuine hope is that he will come good next year and become yet another player ten Hag has been able to coach up a level. He still possesses all the traits and skills necessary to be United goalkeeper. He simply needs to adapt his game more. One can hope.
This is still ten Hag’s first season in charge, and we cant very well expect him to dramatically improve every single player in year one. There may still be time yet for De Gea to change ten Hag’s mind. But he wont have long. As we have seen, our manager can be ruthless at times with his decision making.
Glory, Glory Man United.